Busy lives often mean we have little time to give to others, however volunteering your time and services add value to one's life. The Robinson Crusoe bookstore called for a helping hand moving their books and literally received thousands of people willing to help
Youmay have seen the recent photos of volunteer book-lovers and locals forming a line to pass boxes of books from one to the next from Beyoğlu's iconic Robinson Crusoe bookstore this week, which closed the doors of its two-decade-old shop front to relocate across the street to SALT Beyoğlu on İstiklal.
The landmark bookstore, which is popular amongst expats for having one of the most extensive English book collections, transferred its stock to its new location through the help of its followers on Sunday after calling for assistance on their Twitter account. The touching camaraderie of this particular collective effort is actually part of a greater inherent cultural concept of volunteering help in Turkey, which is referred to as "imece." İmece is the name for a Turkish tradition of collective collaboration to help others in a community.
Traditionally, this was a village-scale collaboration such as joining forces to build something or banding together to assist in the organization of any sort of ceremony. In essence, this concept of helping and embracing others is embedded in the Turkish culture on many different levels. Witnessing the spirit of camaraderie and support for the relocation of a well-loved bookstore proves once again how this notion of sharing, even if it happens to be a burden, is still very much alive in the big city as well as throughout Turkey.
Although communal work was more prevalent in the past, the tradition actively continues in many villages throughout Turkey. Communities come together to clear fields, plant or gather, raise a barn, collect wood or even host a wedding.
Sometimes communities come together to collect funds for someone heading off to do their military duty, or for any other need in the village.
Throughout Turkish history, in villages and towns, imece was an organization of solidarity accepted by everyone yet not based on written law. In many cases, tasks that would usually be undertaken by municipalities on village affairs were instead conducted in this manner, due to the lack of a municipal structure.
However, this does not mean that the spirit of imece and volunteering communal efforts isn't lingering in Istanbul. Not only are there instances, such as the Robinson Crusoe experience, in which people banded together in response to a Tweet, but it is also evident in everyday life in Istanbul. In Turkey, people offer their seats to the elderly and disabled on public transport and they almost always help someone trying to cross the road.